Wednesday, January 19, 2011

forget juggling

I was writing a comment on J. Elle's post when I realized I had too much to say about being a work-outside-the-home mother.

Coincidentally, the topic comes during a week that makes a very good example of why working and mothering at the same time is, in one inadequate word, hard. Another word is pressure. It's like being squeezed from all sides until I think my head might pop off.

My job is important to me. I like the work, I'm good at it, I enjoy being needed and wanted in a professional capacity, and it's GREAT having reliable income in this economy.

That being said

Nothing -- no great feeling -- comes even within an inch of how desperately wonderful it is to be this baby's mother, how fulfilling it is to care for him, how hard it is to be away from him. I don't care at all (yet?) that being a mother is thankless, and maybe that's my professional-self talking. Maybe if I spent the entirety of every day being mommy-and-only-mommy, I'd feel like dooce and many other stay-at-homes who call it rigorous and tireless and wish they could get a BREAK.

I get that.

But I still want it.

I've said before how incredibly lucky I am, that as a work-outside-the-home mom, I am as close as I can be to a stay-at-home -- work is about ten minutes away, I don't do daycare, and I see him and nurse him during (almost) every lunch hour. Our routine is complicated in order to make it work, and involves a morning schedule and grandparents and a sleep-deprived daddy. But I'll do whatever I can to keep the routine.

All of this will change, and probably soon. For one thing, we may be moving. For another, being the mother of an almost-eight-month-old is a PIECE OF CAKE compared to being the mother of a couple of toddlers, or at least that's the impression I get. Whether you're at home or not.

When it comes to being a full time mother and full time worker, I can't juggle. I just can't. All the balls tumble down, starting with the least important.

I don't wear makeup. I don't do a thing with my hair. I'm just lucky if I'm relatively clean when I leave the bathroom in the morning with a cranky (I have to force him to stay awake) baby. I go to work looking like a hungover college student.

When we need things, I don't make it to the store. I squeeze in some Amazon shopping when we're desperate for diapers. (Thank you, Amazon Mom.) There isn't time for the basics like paying bills, trimming nails, cleaning floors, cooking meals (ha!). My gourmet dinner last night was Kraft Mac 'N Cheese. (I even eat like a hungover college student.)

So if you want to know how to juggle it all, don't ask me. When I'm not doing the paid work, my hands are busy with the baby. I just watch all those pretty balls drop and bounce.


  1. I think I need to do this more. I definitely try to keep too many balls in the air and it's detrimental to my entire family. Thanks for the reminder about what's important because it's not making sure my house is clean. It's spending every last escaping minute with my family.

  2. Oh and I am the most insane schedule too when Deacon (my son) was less than a year. I was getting up like three hours before work so I could have enough time to nurse, get ready and then pump, before work. Then I pumped twice a day at work for a year. And in the beginning I had to pump again after he went down for the night to maintain supply. It gets better. My schedule, while still crazy, it's much better now that he's nearing 2 years old.